Danni Pollock explores the small changes we can all make to help the environment in the wake of the Amazonian fires.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave and haven’t used the internet in the last two weeks, I’m sure you have encountered the news of the Amazonian fires. We’ve seen a slew of trailing reactions, varying from sheer fear and anger, to point blank denial of anything being remotely out of the ordinary (*cough cough yes you President Bolsonaro*). If you’re a part of the generation who will still be alive in 50 years time, you might begin to wonder how we go about fixing these environmental catastrophes, or even why they are making our future so uncertain.
In case you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the torrent of news articles and opinions
blazing the internet, I’ll give you the story straight. The Amazon is the literal lung of our
planet, producing more than 20% of global oxygen. Clearly critical for both the global health of all species, as well as simultaneously storing carbon (effectively acting as a buffer for our emissions; the more trees the less effect from our carbon emissions). As well as being sacrosanct in terms of our Earth’s chemistry, the sheer concentration of life in this place is stunning, covering a mere 4% of the Earth’s surface, yet holding 1/3 of global species, with many of these being endemic to Amazon. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
The nature of these fires aren’t ‘wild’. They aren’t ‘natural’. They’re the product of largely
illegal cattle farming and the workings of industry (confirmed by the INPE’s ruling that it is impossible for natural phenomena to be responsible for the drastic rise in fires). Yes, it’s a given that there are wildfires in the Amazon, but this year has seen an 80% rise in the number of burning sites, with a shocking 9,600 new fires since August 15 th of this year, producing smoke that spread 5 million km sq, reaching both Sao Paulo and the Atlantic coast, visible from space. This teamed with the increase of 88% deforestation since July 2018, our Amazon, the remanence of our Eden, needs saving fast. In times like these, it is easy to lose hope, I’ll admit my gut reaction was a stab of despondency. However, while each of us individuals are small cogs in the mega-machine of our global community, we have to change our perception that our seemingly small influence is a limitation. It is our super power. We are the global consensus, the real decision makers.
So how can we help? With so many being quick to cast blame on others, using guilt as a
motivator, it can be hard to piece together what is directly beneficial and what is simply
distracting or false truth. One action we can take is just being aware of our consumer habits. Every pound spent is a vote for the world you want to live in. As much as I hate to jump on the bandwagon of vegetarianism and carnivore bashing, I believe it is the single most simple, most effective change that anyone can make to fight our planet’s destruction. Not only does livestock take up unnecessary room, but they also need feeding. Crops that could be used to feed the populace wind up in the stomachs of these animals meaning ultimately, every animal consumed uses twice the land. This land unfortunately appears to be made of the most precious land on the planet. Therefore, we remove the economic worth of meat, we remove the desire to grow its industry. The less meat consumed, the less land destroyed. It really is that simple. We have reached a point of advancement in knowledge and technology where eating meat is just not required, and we owe it to our home to sacrifice this ancient habit. Black beans contain 15g of protein per cup, more than in a chicken drumstick. Meat is simply not needed in the modern diet.
There are many new organisations that have made simple and easy changes to their services, fueling the fight for a better world, one example being the search engine Ecosia. Make them your default browser, and roughly every 45 times you make a search, they’ll plant a tree. In fact, since the news of the Amazonian fires was finally released, Ecosia sign up’s have increased by 1000%, resulting in the planting of 3 million trees in 2019 alone. This is action, these are the causes that need your attention.
Instead of buying new, consider clothing rental sites such as Our Closet. Offering brands
such as House of CB, For Love and Lemons and Zimmerman, this site enables you to rent
items for varying periods, for significantly reduced costs to what you would ordinarily pay, both saving you money and preventing your wardrobe filling up with clothing worn once. It’s a mentality of sharing and reusing that needs to be made the norm in our daily lives. Reusing clothing items both enables you to explore your creativity, and brings meaning back into fashion and the items themselves, removing the veneer of fast fashion and encouraging a re-evaluation of our cultural priorities.
Think before you throw. If an item’s purpose has been fulfilled, think about how you can
recondition it to suit another use that you would otherwise buy new for. Learn from your grandparents ways of thinking: if something is broken, can it be fixed? Laddered tights can be used as sandwich bags, ice cream tubs as lunchboxes, a jam jar as a vase/make-up brush container, old bottles of alcohol can have spray attachments added to make a mister for your beloved house plants. We must stop seeing rubbish as rubbish.
I could write thousands of words on small changes that have big impacts, but ultimately it’s the global and individual mindset that needs to transform. Our generation has done so much good for the global community, but we need to take a step back and reflect on how we’re living. We are living in a conditioned state that can be reversed, and once you’ve made the changes, they stick. Take inspiration from these carnivorous fires, don’t despair. Continue and build the fight, don’t let our home go up in smoke.
Artwork by Danni Pollock.